Email Marketing Benchmarks for Open and Click Rates

by | Feb 17, 2014

The foundation of gauging the success of your email campaigns in the dashboards set up in your CRM software. With email marketing, it’s important to consistently monitor what has been opened and when the readers click on a link to learn more.

Most companies set up dashboards to create benchmarks for opens, clicks, conversions and unsubscribes. Beyond those basics, many monitor this data:

• Unique vs gross open rates

• Number of opens per opener

• Click to open rates

• Clicks per clicker

• Email message size

• Complaints

Data Drives the Bus

We have become a culture obsessed with statistics. It affects more than just your email marketing campaigns. Fantasy football enthusiasts, political commentators and Wall Street traders are a few other groups of people who suck up data like it was as valuable as the air they breathe.

In both our casual personal lives and meaningful business strategies, statistics are an integral part of making good decisions. Statistics invade our psyche without us even recognizing it. Without “knowing your numbers” your business is at a big disadvantage.


Entrepreneur magazine published an excellent definition of benchmarking: “A standard or point of reference in measuring or judging the current value or success of your company in order to determine your future business plans.” Your dashboards provide that type of point of reference. There are two primary areas to evaluate.

• Company Growth: Critical data to monitor whether your company is on track for your growth objectives begins with a benchmark. Monitoring open and click through rates tells you a lot about what your email recipients want.

• Industry Comparisons: It is also important to know where your company stands in comparison to others in your industry.

Set benchmarks as a tool to drive continuous improvement. Know the goals that you want to achieve in respect to those benchmarks and use your CRM metrics to help you determine when you are on track.

Test Subject Lines and Formatting

Many things affect whether your emails are opened and links are clicked. Probably the most important factors are subject lines and the way your email is formatted. Educate yourself on general practices for doing those two tasks well. That is helpful.

More than learning the tricks and methods of good copywriters regarding subject lines and formatting is simply monitoring what your recipients do with the emails. Even the best copywriters do A/B testing.

What works for your clients, sales leads and prospects may be totally counterintuitive. A subject line you think is brilliant may look boring or even spammy to your audience. Take the time to test more than one subject line to determine how your audience responds. Don’t make changes to the email itself when you are testing subject lines. After you have done this a few times, you will begin to get a picture of what you need to use going forward.

Readability of your email is greatly affected by the formatting of the email itself. Use the same method used on the subject line research to determine how your recipients respond. Beware of making too many changes in your test emails. Focus on small parts of the format structure one-at-a-time.